Target: Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis
Goal: Punish officers who shot man after minor vehicle collision.
A Baltimore man was hospitalized after two officers opened fire on him after he backed into their car. The officers, four total, were in plainclothes and unmarked cars, performing traffic stops. They are members of the Ceasefire program, a special unit that investigates drug markets and violence within them. It is their job to try and lessen violence. Officers Robert Hankard and Carmine Vignola were the ones who shot at driver Jawan Hawkins.
Hawkins spent a week in the hospital after being shot in the neck. Unlike many of these cases of excessive force from the police, Hawkins was allegedly not an innocent man. The officers, who had surrounded Hawkins’ SUV after the accident, found marijuana and unlicensed weaponry, and Hawkins was arrested without bail.
Still, these were discoveries made only after two plainclothes officers discharged their weapons directly into Hawkins’ SUV, for doing nothing more than accidentally backing into the unmarked car. And not wearing a seat belt is something to be ticketed for, not something to get shot over. The incident is currently under an internal investigation. Hankard and Vignola are on administrative leave. Please write to the Baltimore Police Commissioner and demand punishment for these officers who jumped right to using excessive force.
Dear Commissioner Davis,
We are writing to demand a punishment for Officers Robert Hankard and Carmine Vignola, two veteran officers who opened fire on Jawan Hawkins for backing into their unmarked car and for not wearing a seat belt. It is a gross overuse of power, and was a violent reaction to an incidental accident.
We understand that Hawkins has been arrested on weapons charges, and that drugs were found in his possession. But the officers did not know this at the time of the shooting, only when they approached Hawkins afterwards. He hit their unmarked car and was not wearing a seat belt, by no means a justification for gunfire. The officers were simply conducting routine traffic stops and should not have opened fire.
Black drivers are far more likely to be targeted during traffic stops, and not wearing a seat belt is often a cover for racial discrimination. This overreach and use of excessive force is not how you want the department to look, it does not tell the citizens of the city that they are there to serve and protect. All these officers did was show a use of dominant authority, and they overstepped their boundaries. Please reprimand these officers for their use of force.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: GoBlue85